Posted by: westlancashirerecord | March 22, 2018

Can You Remember The Wally-Blue-Bin Mania?

At Full Council February 2013 the Wally Westley new blue bin scheme appeared, the cost of £360,000 was easily affordable because “We have been prudent”. Well, around that time prudence came in the form of additional government Council Tax Support, hence the frozen council tax. We just paid more income tax instead!

But now five years on we are to have brown bins, costing £440,000 from the capital programme, a subject that drew five letters to the Champion this week. “Changes to garden waste service just mean more confusion and more unsightly bins”“This smacks of tinkering just for the sake of it”…”Bins will outnumber beings at this rate”…”How can council tax rise be justified while handing out new bins”…and “What a waste of money” the most pithy of all!

When Conservatives controlled West Lancs Borough Council new blue recycling bins for residents was “investing”. Residents had the option of having their blue recycling box replaced with a wheelie bin if they wished. The Labour Group refused to support these measures, and instead abstained on the budget. Westley said “Unlike Labour, we have been financially prudent and this has enabled us to invest despite tough times. Had we followed Labour’s suggestions, we would have had no money to invest in frontline service improvements because it would have been blown on bureaucracy and waste. This is a good news budget from the Conservative Group.” And Conservative Group leader Cllr Ian Grant said “The council’s waste and recycling collection service is perhaps one of the most visible frontline services as it is the one which residents see every week. Our recycling rates have increased since the Conservative Group introduced kerbside recycling around 10 years ago. With residents now having the option of having a blue bin, if they wish, we are hopeful it will lead to increased satisfaction with the service”.

Back in 2015 stickers were used by the council on waste bins  to explain to new residents in the town, especially students, what items to put in each bin. OWL Peter Banks said “The autumn sees a lot of changes in occupancy in properties in Ormskirk. Students especially are often living in their first property and they need clear instructions that won’t easily get lost to know what to do. Previously, recycling information was included in the special student publication Streetwise but this could easily get lost or not be seen by everyone in the property.

And OWL Jane Thompson said “I live on Station Road and there are a number of student properties in the area. Often waste is placed in the wrong bins and overflows and gets blown by the wind making the area a mess. I wrote to the council more than 12 months ago suggesting that stickers  would give a more effective and permanent reminder to new residents about what to place in what bin. There are few if any other low cost measures that will give as much impact as this simple measure and I’m delighted the council has acted on my suggestion ”.

What’s the betting there will be stickers for every bin, regardless of colour, and the bin lids being lifted during every collection just to make sure the green stuff is in the brown bin and the brown stuff is in the green bin? You couldn’t make it up!


  1. There is a very simple reason why green bins will be used for paper and card recycling – the service will be used by every household and virtually every property already has a green bin. New brown bins will be purchased for those subscribing to the garden waste scheme (around half of all properties).Therefore, WLBC only has to purchase new bins for half of all properties. If green bins continued to be used for garden waste, new brown bins would need to be purchased for every property, doubling the cost. I hope that helps clarify matters.

    • Thanks for that explanation. The problem you have is with telling the public more about the decision. How many people read the Council Minutes and reports? Very few, but far more read the Champion. Officially “The current collection of glass/cans/plastic in the blue bin is relatively straight forward and problem free, however, the paper/cardboard collections are cumbersome. The current blue bag is not large enough and inadequate for the collection of cardboard and therefore many residents resort to their own method of presentation, this usually involves leaving large piles of cardboard at the side of the road increasing the time it takes to undertake the collections. This results in the need to increase the number of staff on each round from two to three to ensure that the round is completed on the scheduled day, and the loaders having to lift and bend multiple times to collect the waste, often making multiple trips between the vehicle and residential property increasing the time it takes to carry out the collections. It also causes litter issues during high winds and wet weather resulting in untidiness and the use of additional resources, e.g. street cleansing having to be sent to the area of collections to clean up”. And “The constant bending and lifting activity of the crews is likely to have contributed to 422 days being lost in 2016/17 through sickness caused by muscular skeletal issues e.g. bad backs, pulled muscles and increased the costs of the service by approximately £38,000 through the use of agency workers. Every time a member of staff is absent due to sickness they have to be replaced which results in the council paying twice to deliver the service”. The point about cost is well made. But the WLBC publicity/press release was abysmal.

  2. Well said WLR. No proper explanation of the reason previously from the council – hence all the letters this week. All press releases are signed off by the portfolio holders/Leader however so no sympathy for Cllr Yates.

    • The scheme details showed even more “Introducing a new wheeled bin for the collection of paper/cardboard, to all households would require significant investment of over £780,000. A more cost effective way of introducing a new bin would be to change the use of the current green bin, to collect paper/cardboard and issue a new brown bin for those residents that sign up to the garden waste service in 2018” but this was not announced to the public. WLBC seems to accept having poor public relations, a poor press office, and open house on its news releases. No wonder the public are writing about the possibility of some homes having six bins!

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